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Onward to Governance

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This week, the All Boards Chairman (ABC) committee met jointly with the Region 1 Board of Education to discuss governance in Region 1. Chairman Electra Tortorella, Sharon, led the discussion. They went over an initial pass at a joint agreement for employment of a Superintendent of Schools. The discussion included the weight of voting on the ABC committee and the proportionality of payment by towns. They agreed to start review of a second joint agreement on shared services over the objection of Region 1 Chairman Andrea Downs. The group handled the writing of agreements as a committee of the whole, a twelve person committee.

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Once a Teacher, Always a Teacher

Assistant Superintendent Diane Goncalves

Assistant Superintendent Diane Goncalves

The Region 1 Board of Education and the All Boards Chairman (ABC) committee met in executive session this week to discuss the pending litigation of Assistant Superintendent Diane Goncalves against former board member Gale Toensing. The legal action has been ongoing for almost exactly one year, with the usual motions and delays typical of such courts. Apparently Goncalves had previously offered a contract buyout, so perhaps this meeting was a discussion of that offer. In any event, the situation is complicated by the fact that Goncalves is a teacher with all the rights of a teacher as specified by Connecticut General Statute 10-151.

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Step By Step

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The All Boards Chairmen (ABC) committee met this week to continue their discussion of the governance of Region 1. They considered the opinions of the three attorneys from past and present requests on the subject spanning a dozen years. All three had recommended joint agreements on shared services between the various boards in Region 1. They heard from two members of the public in support of joint agreements. They decided to review the templates from Attorney Meuser for possible starting points with a view to asking clarifying questions. They set a meeting for next month.

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The Greenskeeper

A nine iron away by Eva DeFranco

A nine iron away by Eva DeFranco

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Contingency

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This week, the Kent Board of Education decided to buy a replacement telephone system from contingency funds. The old phone system succumbed to a lightning strike in the area. They also approved the hiring of a new science teacher for the 5-6 grades, and extended the contract for their music teacher, David Poirier, to full time.

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The Value of Education in Region 1

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How well does Housatonic Valley Regional High School stack up against other high schools? Housatonic, by all accounts, has excellent breadth in extracurricular activities which an isolated regional school should have. And the distribution of electives looks good. But how does the performance of our students in the core areas of reading, math and science measure up?

Up until this year, Connecticut kept its own standards for the core subjects. The state tested students by those standards and used those tests to evaluate each school’s progress toward a set of goals. While the tests will change over the next few years to fit Common Core curriculum, a review of the current results against the past standards and their meaning is instructive. In particular, Housatonic can be compared to other state high schools.

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Kent’s Cost of Education

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Thursday, the Kent Board of Education ended their school year. They set the out-of-town tuition at $11,000 per student per year consistent with the 6% increase in costs for Kent Center School. They passed a new policy on the residency of students hoping to overcome the problem encountered last year. They accepted the retirement of teacher Len Gulatta after 42 years of teaching. And Chairman Paul Cortese proposed an emergency purchase of a new phone system from regional surplus to replace the broken phone system.

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Summary Judgment

Housatonic Principal Jose Martinez

Housatonic Principal Jose Martinez

As summer approaches, the Region 1 Board held its regular meeting this week. Chairman Andrea Downs introduced the new Principal, Dr. Jose Martinez, for Housatonic Valley Regional High School. Former Principal Ed Kirby reviewed the plans for the 75th anniversary celebration next year. Business Manager Sam Herrick summarized the end of year financial numbers. Interim Principal Ian Strever noted a new hire for network technician, and added several job descriptions including the new interventionist. Carl Gross, Director of Pupil Services, reviewed the year’s accomplishments in special education. The board approved the plans for a building modification for Housatonic Youth Service Bureau (HYSB). And the board elected Jonathan Moore as Secretary to replaced Marilyn Yerks who resigned last month.

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All Over Before

ABC Committee members Laura Mittaud, Falls Village, and Claude Rolo, Salisbury

ABC Committee members Laura Mittaud, Falls Village, and Claude Rolo, Salisbury

This week, the All Boards Committee (ABC) met and discussed the ongoing debate about governance in Region 1. They decided to delay further action until they had reviewed the previous report in 2006 by Attorney Craig Meuser. That report goes into the situation in more detail than the current report by Attorney Gary Brochu, and comes to the exact same conclusions. Basically, the seven Boards of Education need to enter into two separate legal agreements in order to follow state statutes. The Committee also went into executive session to finish the evaluation of Superintendent Patricia Chamberlain, and concluded that she has done a good to excellent job.

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Education Over Politics

The Town of Cornwall met in Town Meeting recently, and voted to continue to appoint their representative to the Region 1 Board of Education. A petition had been brought to call for election of that representative, but the motion was defeated by a tie vote of 37 to 37. A similar motion was defeated in Kent 18 months ago. This result represents a precarious victory of education over politics; the Cornwall representative will still be appointed by the Cornwall Board of Education rather than the salient political committees.

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